Michael Gerson and the GOP Establishment View of Christianity
Paul Warned of Wolves Dressed as Shepherds
Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated opinion writer and the official / unofficial spokesman for the GOP Establishment. In his most recent column in the Washington Post (dated February 26), Gerson and the GOP Establishment take Scott Walker and anyone who questions the faith of Mr. Obama to the woodshed. In fact, according to Mr. Gerson, the mere failure of Governor Walker to enthusiastically endorse the faith claims of Mr. Obama makes him “unequal to the presidential big leagues.” Gerson further contents that Walker and anyone else who refuses to go on record in support of Mr. Obama’s faith are cynical political opportunists who will lead us “down ugly alleys of sectarianism.”
Michael Gerson’s opinion piece proves a very valid point. It proves that he and the GOP Establishment, like Mr. Obama and Mrs. Cox, know little about Christianity. If you are interested in reading the GOP Establishments erroneous view of Christianity, then the original piece cited by streiff is worth your time. If not, then here are some highlights.
1. Mr. Gerson warns Walker and the GOP – “which some Americans associate with religious exclusivity” – to not be religiously exclusive because “it can’t be good for a front-runner to sound religiously exclusive.” In Mr. Gerson’s political world, Christianity must be submissive to political realities and the need to win votes. In other words, Governor Walker’s Christian faith must be like that of President Obama. It must simply be a political prop and a tool. It cannot have a real claim on your life that supersedes all other claims.
Let me assure Mr. Gerson that Christians should be no more exclusive than Jesus Christ.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
2. Mr. Gerson argues that “it is simply not the role of a Christian layman to publicly dispute the self-identification of other Christians…” Yet, Jesus clearly taught otherwise.
Beware the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)
Paul repeated the warning often in his letters and Jude, “the brother of James,” encouraged the church to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” against those who claim to be Christians yet pervert the teachings of the church. (Jude 3-4)
3. Mr. Gerson believes – despite the warnings of Jesus, Paul and Jude – that Christians should simply take Mr. Obama at his word. So let’s do just that.
Here is the statement used by Mr. Gerson to demonstrate the Christian faith of Mr. Obama.
But here Obama has been as forthright as anyone could be. ‘I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian,’ he said in a 2008 Christianity Today interview. ‘I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn’t ‘fall out in church’ as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn’t want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.’
First, Christians are called not just to “accept Jesus Christ in my life” as a “powerful guide” but to make Christ both Lord and Savior. Jesus is not simply another person to whom we look for guidance. His will is our will. His degrees demand our obedience. As both Erick Erickson and streiff have demonstrated, Mr. Obama does not line up with the Will of God expressed in the Word of God. In Mr. Obama’s view, Jesus is there to help him win elections and justify his political positions. Mr. Obama is not there to bow the knew to the Risen Lord.
Second, Mr. Obama claims to believe many things that are truth. The Apostle James had a little bit to say about belief that was not accompanied by doing the work of God.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:19-20)
Third, in his defense Mr. Obama would claim that he is doing the will of the Lord by “feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful.” The first two activities are laudable and were a part of Jesus’ ministry on earth – although they were not the primary focus of His ministry. Yet, has Mr. Obama really fed the poor and healed the sick. Under his administration, the plight of the poor and the middle class has gotten worse. Under his direction, health care is now more expensive and out of the reach of many who once had it. Mr. Obama talks a good game but he has produced thistles rather than figs. The third work he cites – “prioritizing the least of these over the powerful” – is not even Biblical. Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to pervert justice for either the rich or the poor. “You shall do no injustice in court [or government at large]. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15) We are also not to steal from those who have to give to those who have not. Nor are those who do not work to eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Mr. Obama ignores these Scriptural mandates because they do not serve his true god, the liberal welfare state.
Not everyone who says to Me [or says to you], ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
Fourth, and this is a miscellaneous catch all, Mr. Obama’s words are carefully honed for political effect but are not quite Scriptural. Notice that he states that action is more important than right belief – “But more importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by….” He also refers to “a path” rather than “the path” spoken of by Jesus – “I believe that that faith gives me a path ….” Jesus is exclusive. Mr. Obama clearly does not want to be.
4 – Mr. Gerson believes that “in many cases” Christianity is for the weak.
In many cases, adult converts have come through low points of addiction, humiliation or crisis. They believe they have found, past the limits of their own strength, something extraordinary and undeserved, which they can only describe as grace.
I would agree with Mr. Gerson on this point. Christianity is for the weak. The truth however is that all humans are weak. It is just the Christian who realizes it and calls out to God. Those who claim to not need God are simply deluded.
5 – While Mr. Gerson acknowledges that true faith exists, he believes that those who have a truth faith will not “publicly judge the faith of others.” The Christian faith that Mr. Gerson wants is neither vocal nor public. It is private and has no place in the public square. A Jesus who stood up to the religious and secular leaders of His day would not be acceptable to Mr. Gerson.
The GOP Establishment has spoken. Social Conservatives and all who call themselves Christians would do well to take notice. The battle ahead is not just about saving the American Republic. It is about the heart of Christianity itself and the proper role of religion in a free republic. In the liberal establishment view – held by the GOP Establishment and the Democratic Party – even allegiance to God must be submissive to the state.